Celticsprite’s Blog

Druidry: The Lunula Sacred Necklace
July 13, 2011, 5:11 pm
Filed under: Celtic Moon Goddess, Celtic Symbolism, Druidry
As I quoted on my previous post regarding druidry’s Nature Worship of The Moon, The Sun, The Sea, and The Wind ; in early thought everything was a person, in the loose meaning then possessed by personality, and many such “persons” were worshipped–earth, sun, moon, sea, wind, etc.
This led later to more complete personification, and the sun or earth divinity or spirit was more or less separated from the sun or earth themselves.

Perhaps the most important object in nature to the early Celts as to most primitive folk was the moon. The phases of the moon were apparent before men observed the solstices and equinoxes, and they formed an easy method of measuring time. The Celtic year was at first lunar–Pliny speaks of the Celtic method of counting the beginning of months and years by the moon–and night was supposed to precede day.

The Lunula

But how about the “Lunula”, the “Sacred Necklace of Druids”? The Moon is also present here with an intrinsic meaning …a Sun/Moon Calculator or clock

“Lunula” (plural: lunulae) is the term used to describe a distinctive type of early Bronze Age necklace shaped like a crescent moon. Gold Lunula are found most commonly in Ireland, but there are moderate numbers in other parts of Europe as well, particularly Great Britain and Portugal.
Among those in this country, are a notable example, for its artistic quality, the two Lusitanian Silver Lunula found in 1912 in Chao de Lamas, a village in the parish of Lamas in Miranda do Corvo (district of Coimbra). They are dated to the second century C., and accompanied other parts of painstaking preparation, also of silver. Today, out in the National Archaeological Museum of Spain in Madrid.

Although no lunula has been directly dated, from associations with other artefacts it is thought they were being made sometime in the period between 2200-2000BC (Needham 1996, 124). Less than two hundred gold lunulae are known and it is possible they were all the work of a handful of experts.

It is one of the best known of the early Irish gold styles as its shape does suggest the New Moon. There are two definite centers within its form, in a proportion of approximately two (inner) to three (outer) circumferences.

Examine this collar and you will find the fact that there are 11 sun-discs on each flanges (totally 22 discs on both), then count the elliptical bows of the collar, there are 7 elevated lines (representing 7 rays of light).

As you know, 22/7 is Pi or π (3.14、、、、、), mathematical proportion of circular and three dimensional geometry.

As I already discussed on “The Trinity of Number 3” ,three is sacred number for druids. Origin of “Temple or Shrine”, the triple aspect of ancient gods and goddesses, and the ancient triple spiral symbol, also known as the triskel.

Manufacture and Decoration

The ancient literature of Ireland contains many references to gold ornaments and payments of gold by weight. It is interesting to note that the tradition preserved in the Book of Leinster, a ms. of the twelfth century, refers the first smelting of gold in Ireland to a district in which gold has been found in considerable quantities in modern times. The Leinstermen, it is stated, were called “Lagenians of the gold,” because it was in their country that gold was first discovered in Erin. It is further stated that gold was first smelted for Tighearnmas, one of the earliest of the Milesian kings, in the forests standing on the east side of the River Liffey, by Iuchadan, a native of that district.

The “Lunula” was made by firstly hammering a piece of gold (or silver) into a flat sheet. The cresent shape was then cut out. Lunula were usually decorated with chevron (zig-zag) design using a technique called ‘Incision’ where the design was cut directly into the front of the metal using a sharp tool. The lunula was to be worn around the neck like a collar and tied at the back by twisting the wide paddles against each other. More tha 80 Lunula have been found in Ireland.

Ross Co Westmeath is believed to be one of the best preserved examples. This collar has chevrons incised into the narrow upper part and an incised border around the edges part. (look at the top figure for it’s lunar/solar significance)

The most telling lunulae discovered were from Kerivoa, Brittany. Here three lunulae were discovered in the remains of a box with some sheet gold and a rod of gold. The rod had its terminals hammered flat in the manner of the lunuae. From this it is thought that Lunulae were made by hammering a rod of gold flat so it became sheet-like and fitted the desired shape.

Decoration was then applied by impressing designs with a stylus. The stylus used often leaves tell-tale impressions on the surface of the gold and it is thought that all the lunulae from Kerivoa, and another two from Saint-Potan, Brittany and Harlyn Bay, Cornwall were all made with the same tool. This suggests that all five lunulae were the work of one craftsperson and the contents of the Kerivoa box their tools of trade.

In 2010 the National Museum of Ireland discovered a find of early Bronze Age Irish Art. A pair of Gold Discs and a large lunula from Co Roscommon. Follow this link to learn more about this important discovery which made headline news.

Lunulæ now existing or known to have formerly existed:—

(as related by George Coffey)

IRELAND (62 at least).

County. No. Reference.
Donegal, 2 R.I.A. 1889: 20 (1). Trenta, Carrigans. R.I.A. 1909: 6 (1). Naran.
Londonderry, 2 R.I.A. W. 12 (1). R.I.A. (loan 1907: 7) (1).
Antrim, 3 Dublin Penny Journal, vol. iv, p. 295.
Down, 1 Castlereagh, Ulster Journal of Archæology, vol. ix, p. 46.
Tyrone, 3 Trillick, R.I.A. 1884: 495 (1). Carrickmore, R.I.A. 1900: 50 (1). Tartaraghan, Ulster Journal of Archæology, vol. ix, p. 47 (at Cecil, Augher) (1).
Mayo, 1 R.I.A. 1909.
Sligo, 1 Windele’s Miscellanea, p. 206.
Fermanagh, 1 Enniskillen (Day Coll.).
Monaghan, 1 Ballybay (Day Coll.).
Galway, 1 R.I.A. W. 10 (Sirr Coll.).
Roscommon, 2 Athlone, R.I.A. W. 5, and 1893: 4.
Cavan, 3 Newtown, R.I.A. 1884: 494 (1). Bailieborough (British Museum) (1). Lisanover, Bawnboy. 1910: 45 (1).
Westmeath, 2 Ross, R.I.A. 1896: 15 (1). Mullingar, 1884: 7 (1).
Kildare, 4 Dunfierth, R.I.A. W. 4, 8, 9, and 15.
Clare, 2 Porsoon Callan, R.I.A. 1877: 52 (1). Proc. R.I.A., vol. viii, p. 83 (1).
Tipperary, 1 Glengall (British Museum).
Kerry, 5 Banmore, R.I.A. R., 1755, 1756, 1757 (3): R.I.A., Killarney, W. 2 (1). Mangerton (Brit. Mus.) (1).
Cork 2 Ballycotton (Brit. Mus.) (1), and one or perhaps two in Mr. Cliborn’s scrap-book in R.I.A.

In addition to the foregoing there are 16 in the collection of the R.I.A. and 5 in the British Museum, and about 6 in private collections, which are known to have been found in Ireland, but of which the localities have not been recorded.


Cornwall, 4 Penzance (1), Padstow (2), Lesnewth (1) (Arch. Journ., vol. xxii, 276).

WALES (1).

Carnavonshire, 1 Llanllyfni (British Museum).


Lanarkshire, 2 Southside near Coulter (Anderson, vol. i, p. 223).
Dumfriesshire, 1 Auchentaggart (Anderson, vol. i, p. 222).
Elginshire, 1 Fochabers (Cat. Nat. Mus., Scot., p. 210).


Côtes du Nord, 1 Saint-Potan (Reinach, Revue Celtique, 1900, p. 95).
Manche, 3 Tourlaville (1), Valognes (1) (Reinach, R. C., 1900, p. 95).
Montebourg (1) (Cong. Arch. de France, 1905, p. 301).
Vendée, 2 Bourneau (1), Nesmy (1) (Reinach, R. C., 1900, p. 95).


Luxemburg, 1 Fauvillers (Cong. Arch. de France, 1905, p. 302).


Zealand, 1 Grevinge (A. f. Anth. xix, 9).
Funen, 1 Skogshöierup (A. f. Anth. xix, 9).

image Fig. 54.—Map showing the Distribution of Lunulæ in Ireland and Europe.


Hanover, 1 Schulenburg (Leine) Springe (1911).


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